California Marital Settlement Agreement Attorney
A marital settlement agreement, also referred to as a stipulated judgment, allows a divorcing couple to mutually agree on the division of community assets, debts, child custody and visitation, spousal support, pension division, healthcare insurance, and other important matters. Upon execution, the agreement is incorporated into the final judgment and submitted to the court for the judge’s approval. If you need help preparing a marital settlement agreement, or need an attorney to review the agreement with you and provide legal advice, contact San Diego Esquire for a consultation. Our flat fee legal review service starts at $595. Our marital settlement drafting agreement service starts at $795. Read on to learn more about marital settlement agreements.
What is a Marital Settlement Agreement?
A marital settlement agreement is a contract between separated or divorcing spouses that addresses some or all of the issues that need to be decided during the divorce proceeding. These issues can include the division of marital property, who will be responsible for paying marital debts, spousal support, child custody and visitation issues, child support, and any other issues.
How to Create a Marital Settlement Agreement
If a couple is on friendly terms, they may wish to create a marital settlement agreement themselves without the assistance of an attorney. First, they will need to identify all of their marital assets and debts. In California, marital assets and debts should be divided 50/50. The couple will need to decide if one spouse will receive spousal support and for how long. Generally, spousal support is awarded when the spouses have unequal income, and the support is to help the lesser earning spouse get back on their feet. If the couple has minor children, then the couple will need to figure out a custody and support schedule. The couple will need to determine if one parent will have sole custody, or if they will do a 50/50, 60/40, or other type of split. The agreement should be specific about the exact visitation schedule and include holidays, days of the week, and pick-up and drop-off times. In California, child support can be calculated using an online calculator. In California, spousal support can be waived but child support cannot. California also requires that both parents contribute equally to child care costs and medical expenses. The couple should also include in the agreement who will be responsible for paying for things like extracurricular activities. The couple should be as specific as possible with respect to all issues in the settlement agreement.
Marital Settlement Agreement Attorney Review
Once an agreement has been drafted, the couple should have an attorney review the agreement. The attorney can check to make sure the agreement is complete and complies with state law. Certain terms have legal implications which may or may not be the couple’s intent. Alternatively, the couple can hire an attorney for the limited purpose of drafting the agreement. If an attorney is hired to draft or review an agreement, the attorney will represent one spouse and not the other. The other spouse should also hire a separate attorney to review the agreement. Hiring an attorney to review or draft an agreement has some advantages. An attorney can alert a spouse to an issue they might not have been aware. For example, and a spouse may have not known they were entitled to a portion of their spouse’s retirement benefits.
In California, to finalize a divorce, the marital settlement agreement is attached to a Judgment (FL-180). If the marital settlement agreement is fair and consistent with California law, a judge will approve the settlement, and it becomes a binding court order. If circumstances change, the could can amend the terms of the agreement with respect to spousal support and child custody/support, but will not be able to alter any terms related to property division.
Benefits of Marital Settlement Agreement
Mutually agreeing to settle divorce disputes allow parties to maintain control over the divorce process and avoid going to court. A marital settlement agreement allows parties to execute an agreement in which the court could not order. For example, an marital settlement agreement allows parties to do the following:
- Divide property in which one spouse keeps the family residence while the other spouse retains all of his/her retirement
- Divide property in which one spouse receives more than 50% of the total value
- Each party choose which debt he/she will take
- The parties can agree to a lump sum spousal support payment instead of monthly payments
- Child support can be ordered above or below the statutory guideline
A key benefit of a marital settlement agreement is control. Not only do you get to choose how your divorce issues will be resolved, you will save thousands of dollars in attorney fees by doing so. Litigation is costly and most parties are often disappointed with the results. If you are serious about settling your divorce outside of court, consider using our mediation service.
When negotiating a marital settlement agreement, each spouse must act in the highest good faith and fair dealing and not take advantage of the other party. Contact SD Esquire for more information about our marital settlement agreement legal service.
Marital Settlement Agreement Preparation & Consulting Fee
$795.00 flat marital settlement agreement drafting fee ($595 flat fee to review MSA). Includes up to one (1) hour of attorney consultation if necessary. Contact SD Esquire for more information about our services. Call 858-413-7980 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to speak with an attorney.